Peter J. Ahrens, one of the oldest merchants in Gillespie who is doing a general merchandise business on Macoupin Street, began business at his present stand in the spring of 1866. he now has a well-filled store measuring 20×66 and a ware-room 16×20 feet in addition. Before coming to this city he was in the same line of business for a year at Staunton, but is now considered one of the oldest residents of this place, having come here when the village was very small. The subject of our sketch was born in Holstein, Germany, May 29, 1826. he came of a good German family, a fuller history of which can be seen in the historical sketch of John M. Ahrens, to be found elsewhere in this Record. This son is one of seven children who grew to maturity in their native country, five of whom are now living in America. Peter was trained in the life of a farmer and he had reached the age of twenty-three years before he started for the New World. he then set sail in May 1849, and coming in a sailing vessel to the United States, landed in New York after a four weeks’ voyage. he came to Chicago and afterward to this county. He farmed for a while and later took up the business as above stated.
The marriage of peter Ahrens and Maria Ruther took place in Macoupin County, in May, 1854. She was born in Hanover, Prussia, February 2, 1835. For fuller mention of this family, the reader is referred to the biography of Charles Ruther. This young woman was reared and partly educated in Germany and in 1847 came with her parents to America. Their first home in the new country was near Brighton in this county and somewhat later they removed to Staunton. This bright and capable German lady has become the mother of ten children, three of whom died when young. those who are living are John, who is yet single, and is associated with his father in business, being the junior partner in the firm; Christina, the wife of Edgar Lightly, a mechanical engineer, who resides in Lansing, Kan.; George C., who has grown up in the mercantile business and is now assisting his father and brother by clerking in the store. His wife’s maiden name was Lucy Burton. The four younger children, Carl, Anna, Fanny and Rosa, are at home. These children inherited more than ordinary intellectual acumen and practical aptness for the duties of life. Fanny received her higher education at the German Methodist Episcopal College at Warrenton, Mo. The church under which this school is flourishing is the one to which our subject and his wife are attached, and in which they find a broad field of usefulness and opportunity for labor. Mr. Ahrens is a sound Republican and one of the leading German-America n citizens in this part of the county. For eight years past his neighbors have served themselves and honored him by placing him in the office of Justice of the Peace, an office which he has conducted in a manner which is a credit to himself and is highly satisfactory to all concerned.
Source: Chapman bros. Portrait and biographical record of Macoupin county, Illinois. Chicago: Biographical publishing company, 1891.